Activated Carbon (Coconut Charcoal)
Activated carbon, also commonly known as activated charcoal, is a form of carbon usually derived from Coconuts or Willow Tree Bark that is extremely porous and has a large surface area available for adsorption and chemical reactions. Activated carbon is so porous that just one gram has a surface area that is roughly one tenth the size of a football field. This surface area, coupled with its absorption abilities, has made it popular in water filters, where it can extract pollutants and other chemicals (such as chlorine).
Activated carbon is so safe for human use that it's used by paramedics through IV to filter out the blood of patients who have ingested poisonous chemicals or overdosed on a drug. Some research has pointed to the ingestion of activated carbon before consumption of alcoholic beverages being able to lessen the absorption of ethanol into the blood (though this is not conclusive). In over the counter supplements it is widely used for cleaning out toxins from the body and is found in almost every herbal detox treatment program.
It is this detox effect that makes it of particular interest in skincare applications. In both facial masks and cleansing products activated carbon is added to draw out impurities from the epidermis, and most notably from the pores. It works well in conjunction with natural antiseptic ingredients to cleanse the skin and fight acne. It also pairs well with surfactants to remove excess oils and impurities.